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Consultancy on Fata reforms a moneymaking affair

Updated October 13, 2017

PESHAWAR: Fata reforms, an idea with many takers in the political and bureaucratic circles, have brought in its wake a moneymaking opportunity for retired bureaucrats and the people associated with donor agencies or private consultancy firms.

The donor agencies have been throwing money at any topic relating to reforms and consultations held in five-star hotels instead of actually meeting the tribal people’s demands on the ground.

“Reforms in Fata are a far-fetched dream, while bureaucrats and consultants are making their fortune on tribal borderlands through such consultancies,” said a retired civil servant.

The Fata Secretariat has recently hired a retired bureaucrat for the post of ‘reforms adviser’, who is paid Rs500,000 per month in addition to other privileges, including car.

Fata Secretariat hires reforms adviser, who doesn’t qualify for the well-paid job

The post was not advertised and he (adviser) will be paid from donor-funded Post Disaster Need Assessment (PCNA) comprising multi components.

The procurement rules were relaxed to hire the adviser. Interestingly, the procurement section of the department concerned forwarded the curriculum vitae of Ghulam Qadir for the position on his behalf, who, according to the rules, did not qualify for the post.

A letter issued by the planning and development department (Fata Secretariat) said, “The procurement guidelines of the World Bank for the Governance and Policy Project (GPP) stipulate in the operational manual that a retired government servant can be hired after six months of retirement.”

“In the instant case, Ghulam Qadir has retired recently and this condition would need to be relaxed,” it said, adding that the adviser’s initial contract will be for one month to be extendable as required.

According to the term of reference, the adviser will provide impetus to the reform process approved in the report of the committee on Fata Reforms 2016 and thus, ensuring the implementation of Fata Accelerated Development Strategy, 2016-25, to help mainstream tribal areas and pave way for the full-blown reforms in due course of time.

The same strategy was launched in the name of the Fata Sustainable Development Plan, 2006-2015, but the desired goals were not achieved despite the spending of around Rs99 billion on it. The strategy was designed with the financial and technical assistance of donor agencies and other stakeholders.

Procurement specialist for GPP Fata Shafiur Rehman, when approached, said Ghulam Qadir had been appointed following the guidelines of the World Bank and Secretariat requested the agency for hiring the adviser.

When asked about the relaxation of procurement guidelines for hiring the person he replied, “The additional chief secretary or other person concerned can comment on it. Such decisions are made at the top level.”

This is not the only instance, but there are others, who have been drawing their share from the cake. The codification of Riwaj (customary laws) in Fata has also become a profitable business for those having some knowledge or ignorant about the subject.

Sources told Dawn that the Fata Secretariat with the financial assistance of donors had started codification process in the area.

The secretariat had hired the dismissed session judge as consultant in late 2102 to codify customs in the region.

The sources said Rs4.8 million was paid to the consultant but the document was of no use.

“The stuff the man had compiled was useless,” said a source dealing with the subject at that time.

The federal government had directed the secretariat in 2016 to restart the codification of Riwaj in the tribal region.

Recently, the secretariat in collaboration with the UNDP has hired three consultants to bring out Riwaj of all seven agencies of Fata in written form. The UN agency is paying Rs1 million to each consultant.

Former Senator of Awami National Party Afrasiab Khattak has been hired to compile Riwaj of North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies, while Professor Sohail Shahzad, who teaches law, has been tasked with recording Riwaj of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies on paper. Another consultant is documenting Riwaj of Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies.

Riwaj of Kurram Agency called Toreezona (the laws and customs of Kurram) was codified by the British government in 1944.

One of the consultants said the documentation process was likely to be completed in a month.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017